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Apprentices left in limbo by FAS

I have just finished reading Anita Guidera's article about the six lads from Donegal who left Ireland for Australia last week in search of better prospects. I can relate wholeheartedly with their plight.

Next week my 23-year-old cousin is leaving Ireland and at the end of the month his brother, who is my age (22), will leave for Australia.

I would follow in their footsteps but I have one small thing holding me back -- I'm an apprentice.

I have completed phase 6 of my training but as part of my electrical apprenticeship I must complete phase 7, which requires working on a site for a number of weeks.

I have been redundant since July last but FAS is adamant that phase 7 must be completed, leaving me in limbo.

I have worked hard for four years and will not turn my back on my apprenticeship, unlike some who are forced to do as it is just too difficult to finish out your time.

The Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union is doing its best to help unemployed apprentices, but FAS should be the body to implement a proper scheme that would allow apprentices to complete their studies and qualify.

John Dungan

Irish Independent